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Once upon a time in China, the most beautiful and gifted women were known as "skeleton women"--the ultimate femme fatales who could bring a man to his knees, or to his doom. . .
When Camilla, a young orphan girl in Shanghai, is adopted and brought to live in luxury, it seems like a stroke of luck. But as Camilla grows to womanhood, she realizes that her "rescue" was part of gang leader Big Brother Wang's scheme. Camilla is trained in singing, dancing, knife-throwing and contortion--all to attract the attention of Wang's enemy, the ruthless Master Lung.
Forced to become Master Lung's mistress, Camilla meets two other intriguing women. Shadow is a magician and rival for Master Lung's affections, while Rainbow Chang dresses like a man and wields power through her incendiary gossip column. Both pose risks to Camilla's safety and status. But an even greater danger comes in the form of Master Lung's eldest son, Jinying, who despises his father's violent lifestyle--but loves Camilla. Only by plotting to eliminate Lung can she make her escape, but at what cost?
Mingmei Yip, author of Peach Blossom Pavilion and Song of the Silk Road, has created a captivating story filled with intrigue and opulence, peopled with extraordinary characters impossible to forget.
an envelope slipped under the door. When I opened the door, there was no one to be seen, so it must have been put there during the night. I picked it up, opened it and read: My dear friend Camilla, As you might have guessed, I am alive, and I did this trick on purpose. Why not? I’m as beautiful and talented as you, so why should heaven favor you over me? Now you know what it is like to be upstaged. Yes, I am jealous; that’s why I wrecked the show. Now we’re even. You sliced my finger; I
the big headline: Naked Girl Jumping to Her Disappearance Last night at the Customs House on the Bund, the crowd was startled to see a young, naked woman pace on the ledge of the clock tower and then jump. But, strangely, no body was found, only splattered blood and a pair of red high heels. The police are investigating this mysterious, inexplicable incident. Some say this was an attempted kidnapping but that the young woman escaped. No one can explain where she went. Others say she
spreading its wings to soar above the clouds. Was I fond of her? No. But I did appreciate the way she taught. She also taught me how to feel—something absolutely forbidden in my training to be a spy. However, all the songs Lewinsky chose for me had sad overtones. She told me that my voice—high-pitched, tender, innocent—was perfect for this bittersweet sentiment. And, contrary to my training, sometimes I just couldn’t help but feel the music tugging at my heart. Whether my emotions were genuine
looking like blood in the dark. It was a long ordeal for him to ascend the narrow steps to ground level. When we reached the top, a taxi was waiting with the door open and the young couple standing guard. Jinying lifted me inside, then crawled in after me. He thanked the couple profusely and gave the driver the hotel’s address. From the rearview mirror, the driver cast us curious glances and opened his mouth as if to ask something. But then it seemed he had second thoughts and decided against
either that I was out or that I was asleep. If he came to the apartment, Ah Fong would say that I was not home and send him away. Finally, a few weeks after the accident, I did agree to talk to Jinying once over the phone. His voice held love, sadness, and fear, all rolled into one. “Camilla, please, why don’t you let me see you?” “Jinying, I appreciate your concern. But I’m still not back to normal, and you don’t want to see me looking sick.” Now his voice jolted up like an elevator. “That’s